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I Died a Million TimesGangster Noir in Midcentury America$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043611

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.001.0001

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The Brothers Rico

The Brothers Rico

Sunshine Noir and the ’50s Syndicate Picture

Chapter:
(p.77) 3 The Brothers Rico
Source:
I Died a Million Times
Author(s):

Robert Miklitsch

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.003.0004

The paradigmatic ’50s exposé is The Phenix City Story (1955). Phil Karlson’s film, set in Phenix City, Alabama, “The Wickedest City in America,” possesses voice-over narration and location photography like other ’50s exposés, but it also emits a vérité vibe that’s unmatched in the ’50s crime canon. What separates Karlson’s film from every other “city confidential,” not to mention syndicate picture, is its deep racial-political subtext, which, in the martyred figure of Alabama attorney general nominee Albert Patterson, evokes the pacifist, civil rights movement spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr. Accordingly, if the anti-Communist films of the 1950s can be said to constitute what R. Barton Palmer calls a “national confidential,” The Phenix City Story not only exposes the raced political unconscious of the syndicate picture but also foregrounds its status as both a local and national confidential.

Keywords:   city confidential, syndicate, race, civil rights, exposé, political unconscious, The Phenix City Story

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